With ever more focus on the health of our environment and clean air, many of our customers ask about the different types of fuel you can burn in stoves and which ones we should be using.
The government is focusing increasingly on air pollution and their Clean Air Strategy states that air pollution is the top environmental risk to health in the UK. While a lot of the air pollution in the UK is caused by diesel and petrol engines and industry, heating our homes is also a factor. The burning of solid fuels has come under scrutiny in recent years so here’s the low down on what you should know.
What are solid fuels?
Put simply, solid fuels are any solid material that can be burnt to release heat. Solid fuels commonly used in our homes (stoves and fires) include:
- Traditional coal – this is what most people think of when we say the term ‘solid fuel’
- Smokeless coal or anthracite
- Manufactured solid fuels made from coal products that have low smoke emissions
- Wet wood – this is newly felled wood that has a high moisture content and creates a lot of smoke when burned
- Seasoned wood – wood that has been left for at least 2 years to dry naturally
- Kiln dried wood – wood that has been dried in a kiln to below 20% moisture
- Wood pellets
What impact do solid fuels have on the environment?
The burning of solid fuels releases tiny particles of ash and soot into the air. These tiny particles are known as PM2.5. PM stands for ‘particulate matter’ and the 2.5 means these particles have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres. Certain types of solid fuel release more of these particles into the air and it’s this that the government is starting to legislate against.
High concentrations of PM2.5 can be harmful to health as well as causing haze or smog.
How to use solid fuels safely
Now we’ve got the negative part out of the way, using certain types of solid fuel can be a great way of heating your home. Not only can it be cost effective compared to gas central heating, but renewable fuels such as wood are also a great alternative to burning fossil fuels. Wood is considered to be a carbon neutral fuel because carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere as the tree grows and is then released when the wood is burnt.
The simplest way to burn solid fuel is in an open fireplace. However, this is not an efficient way to heat your home as most of the heat is lost up the chimney! The good news is that stoves burn fuel far more efficiently and kick out a lot more heat. Stoves also provide heat for a single room rather than the whole house (heating rooms that aren’t being used).
Stoves are the best way to burn solid fuel
Wood burning stoves are by far the best way to burn solid fuel. New regulations which come into effect in February 2021 mean that coal and wet wood will no longer be allowed. However dry wood – whether air dried or kiln dried – will still be permitted. More good news is that dry wood is cheaper than coal and coal alternatives.
Aside from the romance of having a wood burning stove in your home and the wonderful warmth they exude, the reasons listed above mean they can be a great alternative to gas central heating.
If you’d like advice on stoves, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us for more information.